Have you ever felt as though you’re not quite good enough? That, despite all of your achievements, you don’t actually deserve your success and that one day, someone is going to figure out that you’re not quite as capable as they thought you were?
If so, rest assured, you’re not alone. Identified in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance to describe feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, the phrase imposter syndrome has become more common-place and something that it seems many of us will relate to at some stage of our lives.
As per the Cambridge Dictionary, imposter syndrome is described as ‘the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success’ and can often strike when we try something new, or when we achieve something that we have been striving for. This taunting inner voice can then unfortunately impact our self-belief, leading us to say no to potential opportunities, preventing us from doing what we truly want to do and generally make us feel as though we aren’t worthy of the position that we find ourselves in. Sound familiar?
Although it appears that imposter syndrome can affect anyone and everyone, men and women, young and old; it’s fairly obvious that us Brits aren’t that great at talking about it. What we all tend to be very good at is keeping a stiff upper lip and carrying on regardless, when it’s actually pretty likely that we are surrounded by others who have experienced similar feelings at some point. According to yougov, two-thirds (66%) say they have difficulty accepting compliments and praise from other people and 6 out of 10 (58%) say that they have high expectations of themselves but we just don’t tend to admit it out loud. It’s only very recently following the sad passing of Michael Parkinson, that his son has come forward to share how his father quietly suffered from the condition and was ‘wracked with self-doubt’; despite his stellar career as one of our nation’s best chat-show legends. It seems it really can strike anyone at any time, regardless of how successful they and their achievements are.
Someone who knows first-hand what imposter syndrome can feel like is Emma Cartmell, our CEO and host of the Love Life Live Well podcast. In Episode 4 of Season 2, Emma welcomes Laura Capel-Abra from No More Ifs or Buts where she openly shares how she herself has suffered (and sometimes still does) and how Laura has helped her to recognise that such feelings are temporary and will pass. Forewarned is forearmed and assuming that many of us will experience similar sentiments at some stage, perhaps having some simple coping mechanisms up our sleeve is what we all need. During this episode, Laura shares some techniques to help shift our mindset, challenge our beliefs around what imposter syndrome represents and to help us take confident steps to embrace our potential (you can tune into the full episode here – https://link.chtbl.com/love-life-live-well)
Perhaps instead of allowing it to hinder us and hold us back, we should instead recognise and embrace the emotions associated with imposter syndrome as a learning opportunity and that by sharing our feelings with others around us, we might just realise that there’s more of us in the boat than we originally thought.